Ash vs. Evil Dead, Season 1, Episode 2 - Time Flies When You're Having Fun
Or was this episode just much shorter than the last? In any case, episode 2 is another enjoyable romp as the show continues to set in motion its path as both a continuation and a reintroduction to what it hopes is a broadening audience.
It has to be said that the second helping of Ash vs. Evil Dead is further set-up, focusing almost exclusively on the dangling thread that was the mystery behind Kelly's (Dana DeLorenzo) late, but apparently living, mother.
The episode is fast-paced, brisk, and to the point. It gets a lot done in order to have us on side for this trio going forward. It completely disperses of both Kelly and Pablo's (Ray Santiago) naivety, it gives Kelly a very resolute reason for why she would join Ash on his journey, and further proves that we should trust Ash's judgment, first and foremost, despite the fact that he is an asshole.
The mix of horror and comedy continues the masterful blend that the pilot exhibited. None of it feels out of place, and the dialogue is fresh and witty. Occasionally, a character's emotional actions feel a little too surreal, in ways unlike what we might expect. When that happens, the show will probably soak us in excessive, gratuitous splashes of blood, to remind us that this show shouldn't be taken all that seriously.
The tension is spot on near the end of the episode, and even the emotional beats pick up speed when Kelly is manipulated by her 'mother'. The climax is particularly spectacular because it manages to truly create that cause for concern, even if in our heads we know none of these characters will die. At least not yet anyway.
Bruce Campbell continues to play the center of this show with such conviction, proving single-handedly that the franchise hasn't grown stale. His paranoia toward Kelly's parents is hilarious, over-the-top completely on purpose, though his suspicions of the father are never revisited.
But in any visual medium it's the smaller hints that really feed our emotions. It's the idea that nothing is on the screen by accident, and when we see proof of that it creates either tension or satisfaction. When we meet Kelly's mother, a fly bounces off of her forehead. It's subtle, not revisited (though perhaps it should have been), and completely tells us where the episode is going without taking us there straight away.
The journey here is so enjoyable that you can't help but want for more. With Ash at the center, he could easily overshadow his teammates. But as it so happens, the show cast its other two leads remarkably well. Santiago and DeLorenzo are both fantastic in this episode. Kelly is a bad-ass in training, and Pablo is lovable and efficient in his own right (even if he is in many ways just a distraction).
The subplot following suspended officer Amanda Fisher (Jill Marie Jones) is very minutely picked up again, though it's clear that she is being set on the path toward Ash, and possibly shaping up to be an antagonist of some sorts (at least, initially). Lucy Lawless doesn't make an appearance here, further building anticipation for the curious character, Ruby, who has appeared for all of ten seconds so far.
The episode is called bait, and maybe that's exactly what this week's release is. It's the smaller fish, and there are much bigger ones to come. But if this is any indication, the small ones will be just as satisfying. Whether the style will grow old as a long running series, who knows. For now, it's one step at a time. And each step has, so far, been more of a stride forward.